Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Europe. Shortly after I graduated from university, I took a leap of faith and moved 5,000 miles away — all the way across the ocean. I am a European at heart, but the U.S. has become my lovely home. I live on the Eastern shore with my husband Dave and our lovely daughter, Skye. We live in a house surrounded by old tall trees, each of which could tell 1,000 stories. Nature literally takes place at our doorstep.
My shop started when my daughter was born. I had a desire to rid her room of anything that wasn’t natural (any polyester, plastic, etc.). I was looking for something beautiful in its simplicity and innocence, and I wanted to accentuate that with colorful accessories. With that in mind, and with a nostalgic nod to my own childhood (perhaps in an attempt to bring old, faded memories back to life), Colette Bream was born.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I divide my energy between my business and my daughter. Although she loves being around while I work, being a mom is my priority. Time goes by so fast and I consider myself lucky to be able to be home every day and watch her grow. I cherish taking our daily walks together and seeing the world through her eyes. I enjoy being in the company of my husband and daughter — it is beautiful to see how close they are. I’m rather shy and quiet in large groups of people. I very much enjoy reading, I like the incense of old books, and I never grew out of reading (and collecting) children’s books. I love having a cup of coffee precisely at 4 o’clock every day. I also like to just sit in the sunshine and let my mind wander. I guess that’s my “Zen time.” I think it’s integral for all people to allow themselves a little time each day to “slip away.”
What would be the title of your memoir?
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Above all, my daughter, Skye. Imaginative play is such an important part of one’s childhood — that’s why I strive to create things that are inspiring to others. For example: a cloud. A whole story can be created around a simple cloud. You can hang it up on your wall and start pretending, making up stories and imagining.
Nature is a huge source of inspiration for me. Also, my own childhood. I was always a dreamer as a child and even now children’s asthetics are very enticing to me as an adult.
What does handmade mean to you?
It means something meaningful, made with love and care. There is a palpable, tangible value in things that are handmade. They have character of their own, as opposed to the items that are mass-produced in a factory. The whole process — from the incipient action of thought, through design and production, to shipping off the actual product — is in your hands. You share a part of yourself with the world and the end product is always personal to both the maker and the recipient.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
My earliest and fondest memories are of my grandmother’s hands. She was a seamstress, avid knitter, crocheter, and embroiderer. Her house was always overflowing with yarns, threads and fabric poking from every crevice. Hers was a place to let one’s imagination run wild. At first, by letting me watch her —and later, by letting me help — she eventually taught me how to sew and knit at a very early age. She planted the seed and nourished the love for “handmade” in me. When I knit and I hear that familiar humming of my old-school hand-knitting machine, I often close my eyes and imagine it is my grandmother working, and I’m just a little girl sitting next to her watching her again.
My biggest influence nowadays is my husband, who is a very talented artist. He has been very supportive and encouraging along the way, offering positive feedback and the occasional critique. If it was not for his help, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing right now. For a while, I strayed from creating things — and thanks to him and my daughter, I found my way back.
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
I can’t pinpoint a specific time, but I have been making things since I can remember. I was always creative as a kid. I’m happy when I’m creating. And as I create, I dream.
How would you describe your creative process?
When an idea comes to mind, I’ll make a rough sketch or jot down some notes and move on to whatever process I need to make it reality.
Technically, it varies by product. When I’m working on a pattern for a pillow, for example, I’ll start with my small hand-drawn sketch, then re-draw it in the actual size and transfer it to grid paper. That’s when it becomes a little tedious. One of my animal patterns consists of about 20,000 tiny little grid squares — which I fill in with pencil one at a time — that will later become stitches. I knit my own fabric, which is later gently washed and blocked. Once that is done, I sew the pieces together and add the finishing touches. The whole process feels very natural to me and I love every part of it!
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
Nathalie Lete. I’m in love with her beautiful work. Her use of colors, the playfulness and joyfulness that comes through from what she creates is very admirable to me. It radiates happiness.
Secondly (not a studio, but definitely a very creative space), I have a secret desire to peek into J.L.Borges’ personal library. Although, given the opportunity, I’d probably leave it a desire rather than a reality.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
Handwritten letters from my father from a period of about a year before he passed — they are my most cherished and valuable possessions. He often attached something tangible: little trinkets, a leaf he had found, a pressed flower or a feather.
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
Clearing my mind by stepping away from work for a bit always works for me.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
Personally and work-wise, I like the way things flow right now. So I’ll stay the course, and what will be will be. Spending and living each moment in the “now,” I believe, is always best.
I am filled with dreams. One of them: to walk the Path to Santiago — to stray between the earth and stars, to be conscious of the single blessing of breathing, to walk the Road — that’s being alive.